DOLPHINS VISIT SAINTS IN AN INTERCONFERENCE BATTLE OF UNBEATENS MONDAY NIGHT
If you had to name the most popular darkhorse selections for the Super Bowl right now in the NFL, it would probably be the Miami Dolphins in the AFC, and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC. Both are off to undefeated starts thus far in 2013. Both have risen to the challenge when tested in this first month. And, both are positioned to strike from just off-the-radar if the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks lose a step later this season or in the playoffs.
Are the Dolphins and Saints for real? Or, is this just a case of a misleadingly hot start for teams who will fall back to earth by November? Let’s dig a little deeper for answers to those questions, and insights that might lead to a pointspread winner.
Won-Lost Records (opponents so far)
Miami: 3-0 (Cleveland, Indianapolis, Atlanta)
New Orleans: 3-0 (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Arizona)
Miami’s undefeated record is more impressive considering their first two games were on the road…and that the Colts team they defeated went out West and knocked off San Francisco. New Orleans actually looked kind of shaky at struggling Tampa Bay. But, rainy weather and wet grass was certainly an influence in that particular game. Certainly nothing there to prove either is a pretender. Miami is playing at least at the level of a Wildcard team. New Orleans is doing the same outside of some struggles in bad weather.
Yards-Per Play to Date
Miami: 5.2 on offense, 5.3 on defense
New Orleans: 5.8 on offense, 5.3 on defense
Here we have a question mark for Miami. They’re showing a negative differential in the league’s best indicator stat. In fairness, two thirds of their games have been on the road, and two-thirds of their games have been against playoff contenders. Balance the schedule, and Miami goes back to looking like a Wildcard caliber team. They don’t, however, move toward looking like a great Super Bowl threat. New Orleans is about where you’d expect them to be…and it’s a good sign that their defense is playing better this season with the return of head coach Sean Payton.
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New Orleans: +2
When New Orleans won their Lombardi Trophy, they did it with a defense that forced a lot of turnovers. We talked about that with New England last night. If the offense builds a nice lead, opponents are forced into high risk strategies to play catch up. New Orleans needs to recapture the magic of that season to be a real championship threat. Bottom line…clean play from both teams so far…but not dynamic play in terms of forcing turnovers.
Miami: 3-0 ATS
New Orleans: 2-1 ATS
Oddsmakers definitely underrated Miami, though the line has been adjusting in their direction quickly because of sharp betting influences from professional wagerers. New Orleans would be 1-2 ATS if Atlanta had scored late near the goal line of their season-opening meeting. That 2-1 mark for the Saints does represent 2-0 on their home field…and they are known for posting some impressive victory margins in the SuperDome.
Current Line: New Orleans by 6.5, total 48
As we go to press, the Saints are getting A LOT of credit for their home field history under Drew Brees. A line that high can’t be justified by the performances we’ve seen so far this season. Yes, New Orleans is playing well. But, Miami is far from a pushover. Given the support sharps have shown Miami this season, there’s a chance that line will drop before kickoff. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out…with the public tending to back high octane favorites at home…while sharps like quality dogs getting more than a field goal.
What does JIM HURLEY think about this game? Well, he respects the Wise Guys. That’s why his Wise Guy connections are such an important part of the overall NETWORK juggernaut approach! But, he also has computer programmers who simulate every game thousands of times. Those simulations just might be showing the keys that trigger home blowouts for the Saints. And, his statheads have been running the numbers from every Saints home game in the Payton era for keys to unlocking the true best expectations.
You’ll be able to purchase the final word for Monday right here at the website all day before kickoff. This is also a great time to check on rest-of-the-season rates for pro and college football, along with our MLB postseason package. If you have any questions, talk to the NETWORK representative in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
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